George Lucas, the mastermind behind the Star Wars franchise, announced his new art museum project would be somewhere in California. He wanted his gallery to be in Chicago, but he decided to change locations after a US District Judge gave the green light to a lawsuit that a local preservation group had registered against Lucas’ project.

Back in 2014, George Lucas announced he was going to invest around $700 million of his own money to create an art museum in Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel could not be happier, the museum was supposed to be by the Michigan Lake replacing an old parking lot. The facility was going to be filled with many different kinds of modern art such as comics, Star Wars paraphernalia and even some of Lucas’ private art collection.

The Lucas Museum will be Chicago’s new gathering place with a glorious restaurant and observation deck. Credit: Lucas Museum

However, Friends of the Park, a local conservation group established years ago, registered a lawsuit. According to it, the new museum would occupy a significant chunk of public space, thus giving control to a private organization over public spaces. The members of Friends of the Park did not come empty handed. They proposed several “ideal” sites where the museum could “thrive.” 

US District Judge John Darrah gave the lawsuit the thumb up

Since the Major was clearly on board Lucas’ project, the conservation group, in a really smart play, took the case to the District court where John Darrah approved the motion by saying that it would actually give a private institution control over public land. But Mr. Lucas just does not want to invest a lot of money and time on a legal process, so he decided to change locations. He set his eyes on California.

A lot of people, including the Chicago Tribune’s staff, praised the efforts made by Friends of the Park, and the labor of Judge Darrah. They agreed with Mr. Lucas that the parking lot occupying the area was unsightly, so they encouraged Major Emanuel to work on the idea, and remove the car park so the citizens could have more space to enjoy the view of the lake. However, he had a different opinion of the situation.

“Chicago’s loss will be another city’s gain,” Emanuel said in a statement. “This missed opportunity has not only cost us what will be a world-class cultural institution, it has cost thousands of jobs for Chicago workers, millions of dollars in economic investment and countless educational opportunities for Chicago’s youth.”

He could be right, especially since Lucas himself confirmed that he was going to invest around $700 million of his own fortune to carry on the plans. In response to these claims, the conservation group said they were disappointed that the famous director didn’t accept any of the other proposed sites.

However, if someone is going to invest that kind of money, the least that person will want is to carry on with his or her own plans. In this regard, Lucas said the lake view was going to be part of one of the main attractions, and the locations would allow the institution to collaborate with other local art organizations.

Regardless, the plan is off, and this event, for good or bad, will probably make any private organization to overlook that location for any future business plan.

Source: Chicago Tribune